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Customer Review

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Free Flight Disappoints, July 22, 2001
This review is from: Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel (Hardcover)
James Fallows says his new book "Free Flight" is about how to solve air travel gridlock with technically advanced general aviation airplanes (thus the lengthy subtitle "From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel"). Nonsense. "Free Flight" is a chronicle of the author's personal fascination with all things aviation. Fallows spends most of the book detailing his personal aviation experiences, including his flying lessons, his spiffy new airplane, his flying buddies, et al. This is good fun for pilots, especially GA pilots, but I doubt there is much use or appeal to a broader audience.
To the extent that the book spends much time at all on the topic of modern air travel, many of the author's contentions seem outright silly. Fallows devotes dozens of pages (and the book's cover) to the Cirrus SR20 in the belief that it will have a major impact on the future of air travel. Granted, the Cirrus is a fantastic aircraft, but it designed for GA needs and simply not suitable for commercial operation (total number of SR20s in use by commercial carriers: ZERO). True, a new breed of airplanes are reinventing air travel, but these "regional" aircraft are from companies such as Bombardier and Embraer, which sell hundreds of airplanes to fast-growing carriers like SkyWest and Mesaba. Fallows simply never establishes his main point, that GA will have a leading role in improving air travel, and he ignores altogether the many new companies and aircraft that are slowly improving what the author calls "Airline Hell".
As a pilot and aviation enthusiast I found several enjoyable moments in "Free Flight". However, I suspect the broader audience the author seeks will find little in the way of contributions to the air travel discussion, and may simply be left wondering how the normally excellent James Fallows could have produced such a confusing mess.
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